Using food play to tackle fussy eating

February 7, 2023

You may have heard the old saying – ‘you shouldn’t play with food’. Well, Chief Nutrition Officer Mandy Sacher is turning this on its head, encouraging our little Champs to incorporate food into their play!

Children learn about their world through play, it encourages them to be curious, ask questions, learn cause and effect, and develop new language and behavioural skills.

When children play with different fruits, vegetables, and foods specifically, it allows them to see, smell, feel, hear, and taste different textures and flavours. It encourages them to become comfortable with the unfamiliar and try new things – especially for children with fussy eating behaviours.

When children incorporate food into their play, they’re less likely to be fussy eaters and more likely to try new foods and eat a wider variety of foods.

Activities to help you include food in play activities:

  • Create stamps using cut-up apples or potatoes and print your own homemade wrapping paper.
  • Ask children to create a rainbow using different coloured fruits and vegetables. They can arrange them in colour order or colour groupings.
  • Make food a maths problem. Have your child count the number of grapes on a bunch. How many will remain if they eat one?
  • Gather different uncooked pasta types and use them to make jewellery or pasta pictures.
  • Bob for apples outside.
  • Use yoghurt, fruit puree or chia pudding as a delicious finger paint.
  • Have a picnic or tea party with dolls and teddy bears.
  • Turn broccoli and cauliflower into trees and use Lego people, trucks, and dinosaurs to line them up or knock them down.
  • Sing songs or read books about food.
  • Play guessing games. Everyone takes a turn to be blindfolded and guesses the food item by its smell, sounds, texture and/or taste.
  • Have fun with scooping or pouring using rice, oats, or beans. You could even create a road to drive toy cars through.
  • Play vegetable tic-tac-toe by using long vegetables like green beans, asparagus, or celery to make the board and mushrooms and peas to be the noughts and crosses.
  • Use food as the subject inspiration for drawing or art activities.

The MindChamps ChampionGold™ Standard Nutrition Programme

Developing positive eating habits in the early years is a responsibility we take very seriously at MindChamps. That is why we’ve invested heavily in creating the MindChamps ChampionGold™ Standard Nutrition Programme developed by the MindChamps Nutrition team led by our Chief Nutrition Officer Mandy Sacher, Australia’s leading paediatric Nutritionist and bestselling author.

Our philosophy is simple – teach children’s taste buds to enjoy nourishing, nutritionally beneficial foods as early as possible to ensure optimal development and the establishment of lifelong healthy eating behaviours.

You can learn more about this program here. For more inspiration and tips from Mandy, follow her on Facebook and Instagram.


MindChamps Global Chief Nutrition Officer Mandy Sacher is Australia’s leading Paediatric Nutritionist, best-selling Author, child nutrition expert, blogger, and mother of two! She is also known for co-developing MEND (Mind Exercise Nutrition Do It!), the world’s largest and most researched childhood obesity prevention and treatment program based in the UK that was developed with over ten years of research. 

Mandy and her Nutrition Team believe in the well-being of all our MindChamps children and that their nutritional needs should be fulfilled in our centres. Mandy’s philosophy is simple – teach children’s taste buds to enjoy nourishing, nutritionally beneficial foods as early as possible to ensure optimal development and establishment of lifelong healthy eating behaviours. Bridging the gaps in food and nutrition, this first-of-its-kind partnership is our commitment to creating and elevating a positive and lasting impact on childhood nutrition on a global level.